Coming our way in the autumn season on the Beeb, the Cranford Chronicles, a new adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's marvellous book, the very first Gaskell I read and instantly loved. The BBC has an excellent record of literary dramatisations so I am looking forward to this one, particularly as it has a superb cast including Sir Michael Gambon and Dame Judi Dench. It is being filmed on location in Lacock, a village I visited a couple of years ago and which devotees of Pride and Prejudice will recognise instantly. Who could forget the moment when Mr Darcy, AKA Colin Firth, looked down disdainfully from horseback on his meeting with Mr Wickham?
I could watch Dame Judi in anything. I think she is absolutely superb. One of my favourite all time TV programmes was As Time Goes By when she was partnered quite wonderfully by the lugubrious Geoffrey Palmer. I have all of them on DVD and whenever I am feeling a bit down, I watch an episode or two. I have blogged about this series before so will not burble on all over again.
Another treat in store is a film of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. This is being directed by Anthony Minghella, the Oscar winning director of The English Patient. Apparently this feature length film is due to be shown on the Beeb at Christmas followed by thirteen hour long episodes in 2008 so look out for books on The Making of The No 1 Detectives Agency and supermarkets stocking up with Redbush Tea and new editions of all the paperback emblazoned with those well known words 'Now a major TV drama'.
According to Minghella ' The big issue - no pun intended - was to find somebody of traditional build who has that generosity of spirit to match the girth' . I have to be honest and say that I have never heard of Jill Scott who he has cast in the role but as she is a rhythm and blues singer which is not really my thing, it is hardly surprising. Apparently, she is a lady of 'traditional build' and has 'the soul, the look and enormous charisma'.
The ubiquitous Andrew Davies seems to have a multiplicity of adaptations in the pipeline. After his stunning P&P and Bleak House, he is now turning his attention in 2009 to a new Middlemarch. The 1994 BBC dramatisation of George Eliot's greatest novel was the first costume drama to be produced by the BBC for some considerable time as the then Director General of the BBC (think it was Marmaduke Hussey) said that viewers were no longer interested in this sort of programme. How wrong he was. Middlemarch was a smash hit and the classics were then well and truly plundered by eager programme makers out for ratings. Andrew Davies seems to have a monopoly on adaptations and I, for one, am certainly not complaining. It is no coincidence that the only decent Jane Austen in the recent Austen Season on ITV was the one produced by him, Northanger Abbey. The others were simply dire.
He is also in pre-production on EM Forster's A Room with a View (will have to be pretty good to better the wonderful film with Denholm Eliot, Maggie Smith and Daniel Day Lewis), a new Sense and Sensibility (look out Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant, not forgetting of course the gorgeous Alan Rickman), Brideshead Revisited (I gather that ghastly teddy bear is still going to feature prominently though apparently there has been arguments about it) and then to my delight I discover that he is currently filming The Diary of a Nobody, one of my favourite books which I rank alongside Three Men in a Boat as one of the funniest books I have ever read.
So a lot of good stuff coming up which will keep me pinned to my sofa during those cold winter nights when the best thing to do is draw the curtains and curl up with the remote and a cup of hot chocolate.